(Edmonton Journal) – An Edmonton judge has committed a Canadian man to be extradited to the United States to face allegations of providing support to Islamic State foreign fighters.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Little ruled Thursday that Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi, 33, will be committed into custody to await surrender to the United States to stand trial on charges of providing material support for terrorists and conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists.
Abdullahi has 30 days to appeal. Meanwhile, the extradition must also be approved by federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, to whom Abdullahi can also make submissions.
Abdullahi began shouting as he was led away by sheriffs while several of his family members who had watched the proceedings from the public gallery filed out of the courtroom.
In order to rule in favour of an extradition request, a judge must find that the offence the person is accused of would also be a crime had it occurred in Canada, and must find that a reasonably instructed jury could find that person guilty.
“This hearing is not a trial,” Little said, adding that he only does a “very limited weighing of the evidence.”
Abdullahi was arrested on a warrant in Fort McMurray where he was working in September 2017. He has been held in custody since.
According to documents unsealed by a federal court in southern California in January, Abdullahi was a Somali national who spent time in the Minneapolis and San Diego areas before becoming a naturalized Canadian citizen.
The grand jury charge from the United States alleges that between August 2013 and November 2014 Abdullahi gave money to other men to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. Four of the men were his cousins and one was a friend, according to the documents. All five died while fighting in Syria, according to the court documents.
It is alleged that some of the money came from a 2014 Edmonton jewelry store robbery. Court heard that Abdullahi was overheard telling an Islamic State fighter that he would send a wire transfer of the profits of the robbery to help the fighting efforts. Court also heard that the United States had obtained a record of that transfer.
Abdullahi and two other men face are facing criminal charges in Alberta provincial court in connection to the robbery.
During the hearing Thursday, federal Crown prosecutors Stacey Dej and Kanchana Fernando argued that evidence of Abdullahi’s activities could be found through communications saved in draft emails on an account that several people, including Abdullahi, could access. In order to subvert the authorities, Abdullahi and others would allegedly communicate using code names and phrases to provide updates on Islamic State activities, to encourage others to raise and send money to support the terrorist efforts, and to aid recruitment and fund travel of new members.
The United States alleges Abdullahi wrote in these draft emails using the aliases “Fish” and “Phish.” and that this is proof that he knew the money he sent was being used to support getting North American foreign fighters to Syria and aiding in the terrorist group’s efforts.
But Abdullahi’s defence lawyer, Akram Attia, called the evidence provided by two witnesses who the Crown relied on to decode the draft email system “manifestly unreliable,” arguing that the United States had failed to disclose adequate proof that met the threshold of ordering extradition.
One of the witnesses relied on by the United States, Attia said, was in “extreme jeopardy” as the target of an FBI investigation himself, and that he provided evidence against Abdullahi to shelter himself.
“I respectfully submit this is self-serving,” Attia said.
As Little wrapped up his decision, he noted Attia had used all arguments that were available to him